Oak Island Money Pit Didn't Scare Franklin Roosevelt From Getting His Feet Wet

All you need to know about Oak Island: from the Oak Island Money Pit Mystery to where to stay and what the weather is like.

Where is Oak Island Located?

Oak Island is located off the Nova Scotia shores, along Canada's Atlantic coast. It is one of the about 360 islands that dot Mahone Bay. A casual observer may see the 140-acre Oak Island as any other island that is on the province.

Sand and rocks make the perimeter if this landmass as native forest and brush cover a larger part of its interiors. A casual observer may fail to notice any evidence of historical significance from this seemingly mundane.

History of Oak Island Money Pit

The Mystery

If someone could have claimed to know the story that involved a band of pirates, the Holy Grail, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Edgar Allan Poe and William Shakespeare, you could have thought that it was a riddle. Nevertheless, there is a site in Canada that holds the history that unifies all the aforementioned elements and many more.

Even through the Oak Island has a natural scenery and a serene setting, its history is full of intrigue, mystery and tragedy. The story of its past has made many, from adventurers to academics, to grapple, trying to explain Oak Island's mystery. Notably, no one has managed to uncover the story behind the Oak Island money pit.

The Discovery

Most accounts agree that the story of Oak Island's Money Pit started in 1795. Daniel McGinnis, a teenage boy, noticed unusual lights on an island offshore while at his parent's house.

One author Lee Lamb suggests that McGinnis saw a peculiar circular depression about 13 feet in diameter on Oak Island's forest floor. A close look made McGinnis notice that some oak trees that surrounded the depression had been removed. He also saw a tackle and block hung from a cut off tree limb located directly above the shallow hole. Some studies contradict the existence of the tackle and block.

McGinnis left Oak Island to enlist the help of two friends, Anthony Vaughan and John Smith. These three teenagers began enthusiastically excavating the curious site the following day. At that time, Nova Scotia had a few European settlements.

Slightly more than 200 nautical miles separates the remote bays of present-day Nova Scotia from the thriving commercial center of colonial Boston. Pirates frequented the areas near Oak Island as the unpopulated wilderness of the region was rich with natural resources that were used for restocking and repairing vessels. Moreover, its isolation made it an ideal place to harbor the vast misbegotten treasure. It is worth noting that even one notorious pirate, Captain William Kidd, buried an unspecified wealth of treasure in the region before his capture in 1699.

The Initial Excavation

The three teenage boys were helped by many residents in the eastern province to dig on Oak Island. They came across buried evidence that proved the existence of the fabled pirates and confirmed the notions of gold doubloons

They uncovered a layer of flagstone that extended across the surface of the opening. The teenagers pulled the rock floor away from the pit, hoping to retrieve the golden bounty that was apparently hidden below. Unfortunately, they only discovered more dirt, but they were undeterred to continue their excavation.

As they continued to burrow down, the boys followed the walls of the previous hole and found that the pit had narrowed to seven feet in diameter. McGinnis and friends also acknowledged the work of their predecessor—imprints on the tunnel wall. These marks could have been left years earlier by the pirates before they secured their mystery treasure underground. This belief made the teenagers continue their excavations.

At ten feet, the boys found a layer composed of rotting wood timbers whose ends were driven into the tunnel wall's sides to firmly hold the structure.

They eagerly continued, removing the timbers to claim the treasure. The hopeful searchers were disappointed again as they found a pocket of air followed by soil which had settled below. Still, they were undeterred.

At the depth of 20 feet, they found another level of wood timbers. They continued toiling the pit as they removed one barrier after another, with hopes of claiming the mysterious reward. Ultimately, they suspended the work at the site.

After several weeks, the boys returned to the pit with their shovels and pickaxes. They removed 10 feet of dirt as they dug deeper and discovered a layer of thick timbers that had been embedded in the tunnel wall. They continued five more feet down before giving up on their hunt of the treasure of Captain William Kidd.

The Nineteenth Century Excavations (The Onslow Company)

Not much was done with the pit until 1802. From 1795, the three spent time looking for a financial backer to help them undertake a more sophisticated dig. In 1802, Simeon Lynds visited the money pit and was impressed by the story, forming a company to support the excavation. The company started the excavation work in 1803.

At 90-foot level, a flat stone, one foot wide and three feet long, which had strange figures and letters cut into it, was found. The pit's floor began to turn into soft mud at 93 feet deep. At a point, the group speculated that they would finally reach the treasure vault and took a break to continue the next day. When the crew returned the next day, it found that overnight the pit had filled with 60 feet of water. They eventually gave up.

The Truro Company

Until 1849, no other attempt was made to find the mystery treasure. In the summer of 1849, the newly formed Truro Company was financed the excavation. The team ran into the same flooding problems that were experienced by the 1802 team. Even though they used a drill to probe whatever was below the money pit floor, they failed. The drill bored through levels of spruce, oak and clay. At 98 feet, they noticed several links of chain that appeared as it was made of gold.

At 114 feet, the auger hit another platform of timbers. Even though no additional gold was retrieved from this drilling, the team noticed coconut and oak fibers. This showed that some sort of cache lied buried below the surface. Without much success, the team gave up their attempt to reach the treasure in 1851 when it ran out of money.

The Oak Island Association

The next attempt was made of hopeful treasure hunters, which was formed in the spring of 1861. This attempt cost the first human life as a boiler burst when the searchers were trying to pump out the money pit using steam engine-powered pumps. Other people on site were injured. The money pit's bottom later collapsed when the team attempted to reach the treasure by digging up underneath from other shafts. Even though this attempt was disastrous, the team discovered where the flood tunnel entered the money pit. However, they did not manage to turn off the water. These searchers also gave up the search in 1864 when they ran out of money.

Other Attempts

Other attempts to find the mystery treasure were made in 1866, 1893, 1909, 1931, 1936, 1959 and 1970. The searchers used extreme methods. Some set dynamite charges to help them demolish the flood tunnel, some built a dam to divert water off Smith's Cove, while others used cranes that had excavation buckets. However, all these attempts were unsuccessful as they did not recover even a single coin.

The team that blocked off the flood tunnel from Smith's Cove discovered more water pouring in from the opposite direction via a route from the south shore. Cement vault was also noticed at 153-foot level. At that time, it was hard to point where the original money pit was located as the south end of the island was full of old shafts. The excavators always ran out of money before figuring out where the old shaft had been.

Despite the difficulties and risks that have been involved in the excavations, the hunt for the mystery treasure is still on. So far, six men have died while digging. Today, Oak Island is privately owned and you can only visit it using guided tours. The hunt is still on and is unlikely to stop until the treasure is found.

Why You Should Go to Oak Island

The rich story of the hunt for the buried treasure which has been on from the 18th century is fascinating. It is priceless to visit the Oak Island to see the multiple locations where the excavations have taken place over time.

Accommodations Near Oak Island

There are several accommodations near Oak Island. You cannot run out of options on bed and breakfasts and a full-service hotel. In the neighboring towns of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg, you are likely to find more accommodation options. In fact, some date almost as far back as the early excavations of Oak Island in the early 1800s.

Oak Island Resort & Conference Centre

Oak Island Resort & Conference Centre is about 50 minutes from Halifax. Visitors experience the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean with sensational views and salty breezes. It has luxurious seaside villas and cozy Oceanside chalets with breathtaking views of the legendary Oak Island and picturesque Mahone Bay. Guests enjoy the fresh regional cuisine, water sports, full-service spa, live music, and a wide range of complimentary recreation activities and programs for all ages, and many more.

Bayview Pines Country Inn

This is a beautiful seaside farmhouse on 14 acres located along the South Shore near Mahone Bay. It offers spectacular views from all areas within the property. Kayak launch and shaded beach front areas are available.

Fisherman's Daughter B&B

Fisherman's Daughter is a perfect choice for a memorable stay. This Ship Builder's Home is located on the on the shores of Mahone Bay. It is the perfect destination for a peaceful retreat from the workaday world or romantic getaway. It is tucked in between 2 iconic churches and offers a peaceful setting and beautiful views of Mahone Bay.

What's the Weather like on Oak Island?

Most parts of Nova Scotia experience a Humid continental climate. Oak Island experience hot and humid summers, while the winters are either cold or frigid. Even though the island does not have a weather station, there is one towards the west in the town of Bridgewater, which gives an average annual temperature of 44.8 °F. The precipitation runs at 60.50 in. it is worth noting that the ocean affects Oak Island's visibility as the southern coasts of Nova Scotia can be hidden in fog for as many as 90 days annually.